Lessons for a Good Marriage, from the Divorced Who Finally Got It Right

Divorced couples who remarry successfully can teach all couples about building stronger relationships.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

With the divorce rate in the U.S. hitting 30% to 50%, it’s inevitable that in the course of dating, you’ll run into someone with an ex (or two). And somewhere into that first or second date, you’ve probably asked what went wrong. I know I have. And when my date begins his answer with the words my wife, I’m ready to duck out.

For these people, it’s always about what the other guy did, how awful the ex was. I’ve always been a believer in the credo that every relationship involves two people. And no matter how evil my ex turned out to be, I played a role. Got to have. So there’s bound to be something I need to do differently next time.

(MORE: D Is for Divorce: Sesame Street Tackles Another Touchy Subject)

Change thyself: that’s the lesson emerging from an ongoing National Institutes of Health–funded study of 373 married couples in one Midwest county that began in 1986. The study was launched by Terri Orbuch, author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship. Orbuch, a therapist and professor of sociology at Oakland University, recently analyzed data on the 46% of her couples who eventually divorced and the 71% of those who have since remarried or formed long-term relationships. Her findings reveal which behaviors significantly predict finding a new relationship. And they also yield some lessons for making any relationship better.

Orbuch found her divorced people were significantly more likely to find a new love if they could let go of the past — and that included not blaming their ex-spouse for the divorce. If you blame your ex, Orbuch says, you’re less likely to become “emotionally neutral,” an emotional state she found was more strongly linked to finding new relationships.

(MOREIs There Hope for the American Marriage?)

Letting go of the past is an important emotional step. But there are five specific behaviors Orbuch identified that made the divorced people in her sample twice as likely to succeed in finding a new relationship. People who made at least one of these changes were likelier to find a new love, and 90% of those who did so reported they were happy or somewhat happy.

1. Reach out to others to talk about your breakup and seek advice about how to cope and move on
Whether you talk to friends or clergy or read self-help books, the important thing is to gain insight and perspective and what Orbuch calls a “reality check.” This can also help you let go of the past.

2. Change some old habits
Those who cut their work hours drastically fared much better at finding love. Other behavior changes linked to success, though less common, included quitting smoking or riding a bike to work. “The very act of doing something out of your comfort zone is powerful and transformative,” Orbuch says. “It changes how you see yourself and increases your chances of meeting a new partner.” In an existing long-term relationship, she adds, “A novel activity can add excitement and passion.”

3. Find a new way to talk with your partner about money
Since money issues rank as the primary source of conflict in marriage, this one is critical. Most repartnered couples in the study (57%) did not merge their finances, and this was a predictor of happiness. Whether you throw your funds together totally, not at all or in ways between, Orbuch says what is really important is to examine your own attitudes and values about money and talk frankly and honestly with each other early on to figure out what spending and saving habits will work for you as a couple or family.

(MORE: Planning a Vacation … with Your Ex-Spouse?)

4. Improve how you communicate with your partner
The new couples made efforts to share more of their own feelings, stresses and goals and to ask their partners to do the same. They also tried to pick more fruitful times to talk about stuff, to think before they spoke and to listen more attentively. Another important change they made was, in Orbuch’s words, “to lose the absolutes” as in “you’re always late” or “you never help.”

5. Learn to handle conflict better
The most successful of those who had stronger second relationships understood that conflict can happen in any relationship, and they worked at better ways to resolve disputes. Those in the study who could achieve this with their ex — over children or money, for example — were also much more likely to do so in a new relationship. They learned how to control their anger better, like taking a deep breath, for example, and not storming out of a room. They also tried not to dismiss the other person’s feelings or make personal attacks rather than focus on the issues.

If you’re in a good relationship, these may seem obvious, and you may already be doing many of them. But it’s worth assessing your own partnership to see if any of these areas need attention and addressing them before trouble erupts. And if you’ve suffered a breakup and hope to do better next time, it’s worth considering these tips. Sure, you can say you’ll pick a better partner, but the research shows that your best shot at happiness is to make yourself a better partner.

MOREIs There Hope for the American Marriage?

9 comments
REGINIA
REGINIA

I heard so many things about DR Lawrence and every story has been so great. so here is my story, me and the father of my son has been off and on for 3 years its been a very stressful relationship. he cheated on me and I was very hurt, it was miserable for me so in returned I cheated because I wanted him to feel the pain but he never cares so we went apart, so he went back to his ex.i wanted him to leave her and let us come back together, I love him so much and I just want him to feel the same way feel for him, lucky for me DR Lawrence was the one who brought my lover back to me, drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com

BrunoRico
BrunoRico

Hi My name is Bruno Rico' just want to share my experience with the world on how i got my love back and saved my marriage... I was married for 7years with 2kids and we lived happily until things started getting ugly and we had fights and arguments almost every time... it got worse at a point that she filed for divorce... I tried my best to make her change her mind & stay with me cause i loved her with all my heart and didn't want to loose her but everything just didn't work out... she moved out of the house and still went ahead to file for divorce... I pleaded and tried everything but still nothing worked. The breakthrough came when someone introduced me to this wonderful, great spell caster who eventually helped me out... I have never been a fan of things like this but just decided to try reluctantly cause I was desperate and left with no choice... He did special prayers and used roots and herbs... Within 7 days she called me and was sorry for all the emotional trauma she had cost me, moved back to the house and we continue to live happily, the kids are happy too and we are expecting our third child. I have introduced him to a lot of couples with problems across the world and they have had good news... Just thought I should share my experience cause I strongly believe someone out there need's it... You can email him via eromosalelovespell@outlook.com Don't give up just yet, the different between 'Ordinary' & 'Extra-Ordinary' is the 'Extra' so make extra effort to save your marriage/relationship if it's truly worth it. you can also call (Dr Eromosale) on +2347034673139.

uwagreathappyhome
uwagreathappyhome

MY NAME IS HANNA

I am happy because of what *DR. UWA* has done in my family, I want to share

my testimony which goes like this, I marriage to my husbandabout 3year

without no issues, i was prayingthat someone should help me out of this

problem,my marriage get broken because of no child issues, my motherinlaw

came to visit us in townone day she called she told me i should pack out of

she son house, she started calling me a witch, bare woman,I wascarrying

I did notno what to do, even my husbandsupported her for throwing out

my belonging,I was carrying for help, one went I was browsingin the

internet, I saw this great man which is called *DR.UWA* who i laymy

problem toand he side his is going to help me form that problem,He side

I should give he just only one day he is going to get back to me

immediately he said after one day he called me I should go back to my husband

house he cast out spell,I believe himbecause is spiritual doctor, to

cut every shortI put to birth, I am now happy with husband and my mother

inlaw, to contact uwagreathappyhome@gmail.com or call +12348063927671

HiggsAndrys
HiggsAndrys


Quotes: Doc "In August, you cast a Lotto spell for me per my request. I bought a lottery ticket at 9:20pm, the day you cast my spell. Guess What? I hit 4 of 6 and won $4,600! Then I received a letter from the hospital stating that the $8,900 bill I owed was settled for $100. thank you for what you have done in my life"from Angela Mechanics  ville, VA if you need his help contact email adress upesalovetemple@gmail.com

AngelZillion
AngelZillion

I feel the same way as any other woman with heartbreak and What would I have done if not for DR. orinoko, my name is Mrs. Angela, I am 27. years old and I have a son. Unfortunately almost a year ago his father broke up with me because of a mistake I made and I just really want.him back. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I want.our family to be complete again, I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I read online that he helped a girl in this situation and I contacted him for help. I grew up with my parents divorced and I don't want that for my son and I miss my husband so much and just want our family to be whole again I want the love of my life back and I can honestly say that because he is the only man I have ever truly loved with all my heart. So I seek help from orinokosolutiontemple1@gmail.com and he responded to me and he cast a love spell for me which I use in getting back my husband and I am happy and grateful to him for helping me and I want you all to also have the opportunity I had also, orinokosolutiontemple1@gmail.com is the only through help I
have ever known. Good luck

London89
London89

Perhaps someone who has never divorced should teach us about a succesful marriage. The divorced who finally got right?? Wow! What an example of success! Until they divorce again...

theclawnhammer
theclawnhammer

stop sharing a bed w a family pet.   stop social networking...

MomWizCom
MomWizCom

"no matter how evil my ex turned out to be, I played a role. Got to have. So there’s bound to be something I need to do differently next time" Don't beat yourself up! Sometimes one partner is truly responsible for the misery in a relationship through some kind of severe abuse, and the one filing for a divorce is often the kinder partner who agonizes over the choice between peace, health or financial stability and continuing to support the abuse.  

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

Call me a bit picky but it seems if you can do #4, the rest all follow.  The #1 most important thing in any relationship is communication.  If you can't talk, can't understand, can't connect, there's no relationship.  All the other advice talking points there derive from communication and the ability to do it in the first place.  Once you can communicate, you can work on anything else.  And from what I've seen, most couples don't really communicate.